< SWITCH ME >

Those who want a united Europe look for similarities, a common heritage, phenomena that connect us - preferably from the Atlantic all the way to the Urals. On the other hand, we tend to see differences between the nations of Europe, rather than the common traits. But how does our continent appear from the outside? What connects us as seen from a non-European point of view? What would be THE European trait for someone form another part of the world?

ali_jeanAli Jean Eric Alira

The native of Burkina Faso left Africa for Europe 1994 in order to study Linguistics at the University of Vienna. He never finished his studies, as he met a woman from Poland and followed her there a few years later. He became famous in his new country after taking part in a reality TV show. He became even more famous after being elected to one of Poland's regional parliaments. His main areas of political activity are international relations and cooperation, culture and tourism.

EUROPE IN ONE SENTENCE: God gave time to the Africans, he gave clocks to the Europeans.

I didn't have to go to Europe to know it. In every African country you get to know two cultures and you live within both: the native one and the one of the colonial country. Hence when you're in Europe, you recognise a lot of familiar patterns, it's not entirely strange to you.

Yet there are things you have to adapt to: when I left for Europe in order to study in Vienna, people told me to be punctual. They would say to me: in Europe, when you come to a meetingten, or even five minutes to late, it doesn't count any more, the meeting is cancelled. I've been doing my best and have seemed to cope with punctuality so far...

I came here and what I saw were people walking fast, very fast, hurrying to get somewhere. I couldn't help asking: where are all these people going?

Europeans find it strange when I simply stop and say hello to them. They just don't know what to think of it and how to handle it. But then again: they don't have the time to stop.

What I find really tiresome here is bureaucracy. It takes up too much time. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any, but the time it takes up could be spent meeting your friends to sit down, drink tea and talk about life.

In Europe you say: everyone for himself and God for everybody. At least you share God...


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